Many foreign-born children are brought to America illegally by their parents. They are then raised and educated in a country where immigration laws make it impossible to obtain financial aid for a higher education. Federal college grants and scholarships are also unavailable to potential college students who cannot prove legal status.
Still, some undocumented immigrants manage to attend college or graduate school and obtain high degrees. But even after putting in the hard work to earn a degree, professional licenses can be denied.
Supreme Courts in two states are currently trying to decide whether two illegal immigrants who passed state bar exams can be licensed as lawyers. Admission to the bar requires proof of legal immigrant status, which neither law school graduate has.
One student asked his state's high court to render an opinion after he passed the state bar exam. His hope is that the court will look past his immigration status and allow him to practice law in the state. The other student had already been sworn in as an attorney before media attention brought the case to the state court's attention.
Even if the states grant professional licenses to undocumented immigrants, they still face an uphill battle as federal law blocks United States companies from hiring workers without proper documentation. Of course, there is one loophole: Companies are able to hire independent contract workers without proof of immigration status.
Additionally, a new policy announced by Homeland Security last week could also make it easier for certain undocumented immigrants to obtain work in the United States. The Obama Administration announced that it will stop deportations against younger law-abiding undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children.
Instead, the administration said it will begin granting work permits to these individuals, making it so they can work legally in the country. It was indicated that the two-year work permits will not lead to citizenship; however, no limits on how many times it can be renewed.
Source: Wall Street Journal, "California, Florida Consider Law Licenses for Illegal Immigrants," Joe Palazzolo, June 11, 2012